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Introducing Sinai

Occupied by Israel from 1967 to 1982, and sharing more with Asia than Africa, Sinai is the most atypical part of Egypt.

Settled by Bronze Age communities, attracted by Sinai’s copper and turquoise deposits, and later by Pharaonic mining parties, Sinai is most celebrated in history for the Exodus of Israelites towards the Promised Land. Though disputed by historians, Jews, Christians and Muslims believe Gebel Mousa (Mt Sinai) marks the spot where Moses received the Ten Commandments. It remains an important pilgrimage site.

If the interior belongs to God, Sinai’s coast belongs to mammon. Vast resorts fringe the peninsula, attracting biblical numbers of sun-worshippers, attracted by blue skies and world-class diving.

Despite high tourist revenue, the indi­genous Bedouin of the Sinai see little investment in their own communities. In recent years their resentment, encouraged by fundamentalists with their own agenda, has led to violence. Tourism continues unabated, however.